We’ve made a commitment to sustainability, to ensuring that the environment, the planet and the people who live and work in it are considered in every decision we make: from the materials we use, to the way our products are packaged, to how we run our workshop. Because good things shouldn’t cost the earth. We’re about maximum fun, minimal impact, and we believe the only thing that should be left behind is great memories.
All Sbri leather is sustainably sourced and prepared for us in the UK, using traditional methods, because old school is cool (and when we say old school, we’re talking centuries old). It’s veg-tanned leather which means the tanneries use natural materials and dyes like bark, roots and leaves to prepare the hides, rather than chemicals and other nasties used to produce more commonly used chrome-tanned leather (that’s the kind you’ll find on the high street, and its sustainability track record is far less than perfect). Using natural fibres means no harm to tannery workers, and waste can be safely recycled with no impact on our waterways, giving our oceans the respect they deserve.
Our leather is a bi-product of the food and drink industry, saving waste from landfill, and it’s sourced as locally as possible. The leather itself comes from well-regulated farms in Europe and is tanned here in Britain, making short transport routes to minimise our carbon emissions, and avoiding the highly polluting tanneries found in Asia which are dependent on chemical production.
Veg-tanned leather takes longer to produce than its chrome-tanned alternative – up to two months versus just a day or so – but it’s worth the wait. It’s slow production, low energy, and leaves no trace. It’s like they say, slow and steady wins the race.
"Hey, Sbri – what about vegan leathers?"
We’ve given this a lot of thought, but right now we don’t have any faux leathers on the menu. Why not? Well, the truth is that many of the faux leathers being labelled as “vegan” on the high street right now are not necessarily ethical or environmentally sustainable, in fact most are purely synthetic. PVC and PU leather alternatives might not use animal products (which we completely understand is a priority for some), but they are essentially plastics – polluting to produce, difficult to repurpose and much more likely to end up in landfill after a short time due to being lower in quality.
Our leather on the other hand is durable, biodegradable and has little-to-no environmental impact due to production methods and natural fibres – much better, we think you’d agree?
That’s not to say that leather is always the better option – it all comes down to responsible sourcing and following best practices. As we’ve mentioned here, mass-produced chromium tanned leather is a huge polluter so that’s something we will always rule out, and there are some interesting new natural alternatives to leather on the market that we’re excited to learn more about. We’d definitely never say never to a vegan option, but for us right now we feel the best approach is consciously produced vegetable tanning.
And because we’re all about the little extras that make your day that bit better, we put as much care and consideration into sourcing the finishing touches to our products as we do the main event.
Our purses and leather accessories are finished with solid brass hardware rather than plastics. Brass is one of the most recycled metals in the world, dependent on utilising other metal scraps and is therefore energy efficient (and it looks pretty great too). We also use solid oak beads to make our tassel keyrings, sourced from an FSC certified supplier. Our wood comes from responsibly managed forests which protect the wellbeing of local communities, and we are supporters of the Woodland Trust, helping them to plant trees to offset our carbon footprint. Like the cherry on your cake, the sprinkles on your sundae, we know the little touches matter too.
In the Workshop
We believe that our commitment to sustainability extends beyond what we make, but how we make it too. We make everything to order. No, really – we only stock raw materials and respond to customer demand, so when we say your purse was made for you, we really mean it. Not only does that make your Sbri piece extra personal, but working this way means we have no waste stock, no leftover lines. You won’t ever find a clearance sale at Sbri because we only make what we need (and the planet’s not left with the burden of a design that didn’t quite work out).
We prepare our leather to size, cutting carefully to get the maximum number of pieces out of each hide as possible. Any offcuts are used to make smaller items like luggage tag straps, keyrings and packaging tags, so nothing goes to waste. Our materials are used to their full potential, because we think they’re great, and it’s important to make the most of great things (that’s advice to live by). It’s all done in-house too, so we know exactly who made your purse, how they made it, what they were paid to make it, and where they made it (that’s here in our workshop, by the way. It’s a nice place to be). There are no secrets or surprises in our production line.
We’re plastic-free too, minimising packaging to make sure waste is not an afterthought. No cellophane, no bubble lining or polybags, just paper-lined padded envelopes, card sleeves or reusable gift bags, so when a Sbri order arrives on your doormat you’ll know that everything inside and out is either natural, recycled or reusable, and sustainably sourced (of course).
And as we make everything in-house, we have full control over our production methods, our waste and the quality of our products. We’re powered by 100% renewable energy, saving 5312 tonnes of CO2 on average every year, and in 2020 we’re continuing to work towards our goal of becoming a completely carbon neutral company. Because the only place we want to leave a footprint is on a sandy beach.